That’s driving when you’d have too much to drink right?
But what about when you’re not actually driving? Did you know that you can still be arrested? Could still end up losing your licence and with a Criminal Record?
Drink Driving’s lesser known partner is Drunk in Charge – this means you are effectively in charge of a motor vehicle when you are over the legal limit – even being in possession of your car keys and in the vicinity of your car could be grounds for the police to arrest you. The issue in these cases is what constitutes “in charge” and the law does not provide a definitive list – I remember one client who had gone to her car to get a CD – she turned the engine on to be able to eject the disc – she wasn’t even sat in the driving seat or fully in the car but found herself prosecuted for being drunk in charge!
At Forrest Williams, we know that no two cases are the same because no two clients are the same – because of this the defence we present is bespoke and tailored to your own situation and circumstances.
Recently I helped a defendant who sat in his car in pub/restaurant car park – Our client was sat in his car, drinking a glass of wine, with his girlfriend. They were out for the evening with friends – the couple they were dining with were still in the restaurant. His phone had died so between courses they had popped outside to charge the phone briefly to be able to check in to make sure everything was ok at home – the engine was on to allow the battery to charge. He was arrested for being Drunk In charge of a Vehicle. However he had a valid defence as he had no intention of driving – they had planned on leaving the car there overnight and getting a taxi home with their friends. On this case we were appointed at the very outset of the offence – the defendant’s partner rang us as soon as he was arrested and we were able to arrange for a specialist to be present at the station to ensure that the best possible defence was put forward at the earliest opportunity. He was entitled to free advice at the station but it would have simply been whoever was on duty at that point in time – instead he had a specialist and he had a firm able to ensure that his partner was kept updated and to also ensure that the police were aware of our client’s health issues and to ensure he had access to the medical help he would need during his time in the station.
We were able to ensure that the client knew to give a full statement and to say from the very start that he had not intended to drive. There was therefore no chance for the prosecution to suggest that this defence was only raised after the client was formally charged. We were able to obtain statements from the individuals he was out with for the evening and present these to the Officers so they knew from the start that we would be putting forward this defence. The result – the client was found not guilty of being drunk in charge.
What about if it’s raining and you seek shelter in the car? Still not intending to drive, just hoping to wait until the rain eases? Or your taxi doesn’t turn up, or you fall out with friends or lose your friends during a night out and decide to sleep in the car for a few hours? Both could still see you charged but equally, in both you would have had a valid defence to the charge of drunk in charge, as long as a case was prepared that was able to persuade the Court that you would not have drove until you were under the limit.
If you are arrested and you want to make sure that you are represented by a specialist from the start then give Forrest Williams a call on 01623 397200 and one of the team will be happy to help.